Try the empathy workout to develop your empathy skills, spread knowledge about empathy and expand your sphere of empathy. You can learn to understand people whose life experiences and views are different from yours.
- Think of a time when you have experienced empathy or shared it with others.
- Tell a friend, a family member or a colleague how you have appreciated the empathy received from them.
Get to know a new person
- Spend time with someone you don’t know very well. Go for a coffee or a walk together!
- Share your life experiences
- Discuss what you have in common, and also how you’re different from each other.
- Try to understand each other and the other person’s points of view.
Practice everyday empathy
Think how you could help and support people around you, at home, at work, or elsewhere.
- Be courteous and helpful.
- When you see someone who needs help, offer it to them.
When you talk to someone:
- Listen with an open mind and without interrupting them.
- Focus on the other person’s words, not what you want to say next.
- Ask open-ended questions to understand the other person’s views better.
- Try to find out what the other person thinks and why.
Read stories about different people
Stories help us understand people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Research shows that fictional stories can increase the empathy of the reader.
Read a good novel or a story about a person who is different from you, or in a situation you have never experienced. Ask yourself what you would do if you were this person.
- What would you dream about?
- What concerns would you have?
- What would you need to change your life for the better?
Reflect on your empathy
Empathy is inherent to human beings, but our ability to experience it may be constrained by social mechanisms, biased media coverage, and our own, limited life experiences. These may affect who we empathize with. For example, if a someone doesn’t know any refugees or understand why they’re fleeing, they may overlook the challenges refugees face.
- Think of situations and people that have made you feel empathy – and those that haven’t.
- What might limit your experience of empathy? Be prepared to question your own mindset.
- If you find it difficult to understand some people’s experiences, familiarize yourself with their situation.
- Look for ways of meeting and getting to know new people.
Make empathy global
Those distant and unknown also need your empathy.
- Find out how your choices affect the well-being of humans, animals and the environment.
- Think of those people who make your clothes or coffee. How is their everyday life? What do they hope from their lives?
- Support the implementation of human rights close and far. For example, you can appeal to decision makers or donate funds to an organization you value.
- Volunteering has an impact! It allows you to give your time to good causes, to support people and to share empathy with them.
Share empathy on social media
- Take the empathy test and share it with the hashtag #empathymovement.
- Challenge a person with whom you have shared empathy.
- Participate in our discussions on Instagram @empathymovement by sharing your views or experiences on empathy.
We have consulted Elisa Aaltola, Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Turku, and Antti Rajala, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Faculty of Education from the University of Helsinki as well as Elisa Aaltola’s and Sami Keto’s book “Empatia: myötäelämisen tiede” (Into, 2018) for the empathy test and workout.